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State Representative Paul Anderson

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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For more information contact: Chad Urdahl 651-296-5520

Posted: 2017-11-06
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Guest Column

Discussions continue regarding ditch-mowing regulations


 

By Rep. Paul Anderson

A great deal of “discussion and comment” was generated recently when MnDOT came out with new rules for cutting and baling right-of-ways along state highways. Some saw the new regulations, such as needing to obtain a permit and having to furnish a liability policy with the state being named the beneficiary, as being too onerous.

Several bills were introduced during this year’s legislative session, but the issue proved to be too controversial to reach compromise. What did pass was a one-year moratorium on any new rules from MnDOT, and a requirement to hold stakeholder meetings around the state to take input from those interested in the topic.

Those meetings have now been set, and two of them will take place in our area. One will be held this week, on Thursday, Nov. 9, in St. Cloud. It begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at the MnDOT Conference Center, 3725 12th St. N.

The other meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, Nov. 15, in Morris. It will start at 6 p.m. in the Science Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Morris, 600 East 4th St.

To me, the biggest issue in all this is the date at which mowing of state road ditches can begin. We have long had on the books a statute prohibiting mowing before August 1. However, it’s hasn’t been enforced as most mowing for livestock feed takes place in late June or early July. That’s because the feed value of the grass declines significantly later in the summer when it dries and gets ripe.

We also have laws regarding noxious weeds, one of which is Canadian thistle. I was disappointed this past summer to see all the thistles going to seed along state highways and freeways. One Freeport resident said he couldn’t be outside one day this summer because of all the seeds blowing through his yard.

On the other side of this issue are those wanting to utilize the road ditches for pollinator and wildlife habitat. I understand their concerns but think there are better and safer places to encourage this type of vegetative cover.

***

This fall’s harvest certainly has been challenging. Everything from high winds and cold temps, along with numerous bouts of rain and lately snow, have made the job of getting the crop out of the field take longer than usual. My son came home to help with the harvest, and we had to quit combining one day last week because of snow. We got going again the next day and finally finished up last Friday afternoon, just before another round of snow dropped around 5 inches of heavy, wet stuff.

Now, it’s gotten cold and that’s going to make any remaining fall tillage difficult as the ground will freeze up quickly with night time temps in the teens. A TV weather reporter said that, so far in November, we are a full seven degrees below average, which is a huge variation.

Gov. Mark Dayton last week signed an executive order, granting an exemption from the hours of operation rule for truck drivers. It applies to those hauling propane gas and diesel fuel and should help alleviate potential shortages caused by truckers having to wait in line for hours to load product. The heavy demand for propane is being caused by corn drying and the release of federal dollars for fuel assistance.

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